Our Planet

A female saltmarsh sparrow in a New Hampshire wetland is held by University of New Hampshire graduatet student Talia Kuras. The circular device reads the transponder-containing indentification tag on the bird's leg. 

Planet Positive

Saving the Imperiled Saltmarsh Sparrow

Conservationists are racing to rescue a delightful coastal animal from rising seas

School children protest climate change outside the Scottish Parliament in 2019 as part of a worldwide demonstration.

The Future of Mental Health

Your Crushing Anxiety About the Climate Crisis Is Normal

A Stanford researcher shares what she’s learned about the ways climate change affects mental health and offers practical advice

Some seagrasses are linked to lower levels of gastroenteritis-causing pathogens in the water. 

Seagrass Can Work as a Sanitation Service

Millions of cases of potentially deadly gastroenteritis are prevented each year because of the pathogen-reducing powers of the plant

A snorkeler comes face to face with a humpback whale. If humans work to halt climate change, that may help prevent another mass extinction event in the oceans.

Without Action on Climate, Another Mass Extinction Event Will Likely Happen in the World's Oceans

Marine species at the poles will face increasing pressure if warming isn’t curbed

Since 2017 when the Smithsonian Institution launched its first Earth Optimism Summit, marine biologist Nancy Knowlton notes that positive change is happening. “The price of renewable energy is cheaper than ever, electric vehicles are finally on the verge of taking off, and the world seems ready to protect 30 percent of its lands and water,” she says.

A New Surge of Earth Optimism Takes Center Stage at This Year's Folklife Festival

The challenges are many, but evidence shows that positivity emboldens global conservation efforts

A view of a Palouse Falls in Palouse Falls State Park in Washington. Geologists believe massive floods carved out this canyon and others in the Scablands.

Devastating Ice Age Floods That Occurred in the Pacific Northwest Fascinate Scientists

The Scablands were formed by tremendous and rapid change, and may have something to teach us about geological processes on Mars

Bon Ami Mine is located in Little Switzerland, North Carolina, about 50 miles northeast of Asheville.

Black Lights Turn This North Carolina Mine Into a Psychedelic Wonderland

The Bon Ami Mine’s deposits of the mineral hyalite glow fluorescent green under ultraviolet light

Geologic processes have led to changes in the water and gases released by mudpots, geysers and springs—like this one.

Five Big Changes Scientists Have Documented During Yellowstone National Park's 150-Year History

Scientists have monitored the region closely for generations, and these are some of the most dramatic shifts they've seen

This mural outside of an outfitter's office illustrates the snaking mouth of Mosquito Bay.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico's Bioluminescent Bays Are Brighter Than Ever

The nightly light shows have rebounded from Hurricane Maria's devastating blow

Cycads growing in Litchfield National Park in Australia.

Many of These Plants Older Than Dinosaurs Face Extinction

Cycads have changed a great deal since they first appeared around 280 million years ago, and habitat loss and illegal trade are now threats

A vessel nears the commercial wind farm 3.8 miles off the coast of Block Island.

Planet Positive

This Historic Community Is Pushing the Nation Toward a Wind Power Revolution

Block Island, off the New England coast, overcame political strife to lead the way on energy independence

Eileen McSaveney (left) and Terry Tickhill (right) use a hand augur to drill Lake Vanda, Wright Valley, Antarctica, during the 1969-1970 field season. Water collected during this effort was used to date the lake.

Ten Pioneering Women of Antarctica and the Places Named for Them

These coves, peaks, glaciers and other landmarks honor female explorers and scientists who have contributed to our understanding of the continent

Dorchester County artist Michael Rosato painted a mural of Harriet Tubman in Cambridge, Maryland.

Women Who Shaped History

Harriet Tubman Is Famous for Being an Abolitionist and Political Activist, but She Was Also a Naturalist

The Underground Railroad conductor's understanding of botany, wildlife biology, geography and astronomy allowed her to guide herself and others to safety

The Venus flytrap Dionaea muscipula is the most sophisticated of the carnivorous plants. Its traps snap shut in a fraction of a second, imprisoning prey in a cage of teeth that line the edges of the trap.

How Carnivorous Plants Evolved

Botanists are beginning to trace the origins of their gruesome appetites

The Carnegie under full sail.  Cruise VII, Pacific Ocean.  November 14, 1928.

Inside the Last Journey of the 'Carnegie'

The groundbreaking ship and its dedicated captain shaped our understanding of the Earth’s magnetic field

A new way of recycling has grabbed the attention of some of the world’s largest consumer goods companies, including L’Oréal, Nestlé, and PepsiCo, who collaborated with startup company Carbios to produce proof-of-concept bottles.

The Future of Recycling May Be in Microbes

An enzyme-based recycling technology is poised to go commercial, but questions about cost and scalability linger

Artist rendering of a solar canal system for California.

California Is About to Test Its First Solar Canals

The innovative project is a win for water, energy, air and climate

David and Priscilla Burke's daughter Aoibheann with a wild fig tree her parents discovered.

In California, the Search for the Ultimate Wild Fig Heats Up

A booming market has specimen hunters tracking down rare new varieties of the ancient fruit

One of the species Stewart captured on audio is the Panamanian Golden Frog, a once-common species now rarely seen in the wild.

Listen to These Amazing Sounds of Lost Places and Animals Within Them

Prolific audio naturalist Martyn Stewart has released a free collection of his remarkable recordings before his passing

Brine shrimp, and brine shrimp eggs, are teeny-tiny. But by analyzing the light they reflect, scientists can now identify aggregations of them from space.

Scientists Can Spot Shrimp Eggs From Space

By analyzing the light it reflects, scientists can say whether that floating blob in a satellite image is made up of shrimp, seaweed or something else

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